Thursday, July 8, 2010

Haitian-American Steve Geffrard of Boca Raton aspires to 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team

There's been a buzz around Geffrard for awhile - he won the 2006 National Silver Gloves competition - but his victory last month at the USA National Golden Gloves tournament in Little Rock, Ark., opened eyes.

Geffrard, a former light heavyweight, entered the 201-pound heavyweight category at the Golden Gloves despite weighing 193 pounds at the time. He defeated last year's champion, Jordan Shimmell, 4-1 to take the title.

"It was a great confidence booster, " Geffrard said. " He's bigger, stronger, more experienced, older."

He's won 35 of his past 40 matches and has nine knockouts in those wins. Geffrard's victories, however, are rooted in modest beginnings.

His parents were from Haiti but wanted their son to have the advantages that only the United States could offer. So his father collected all his money and sent Geffrard's mother to Boston to give birth.

Geffrard was cared for by a great-aunt in Boca Raton for a few months before he was sent to Haiti to live with his grandmother. The two stayed there about a year before moving back to South Florida.

Growing up in Boca Raton, he shared a room with his grandmother in his great-aunt's duplex. The space was limited, but he was thankful.

"I had somewhere to stay and someone to take care of me, so it was good," he said. "It was real tight, but it was better than nothing. It was all I knew."

His grandmother, Gislaine Jeanlor, who speaks Creole and Spanish but has difficulty with English, said simply, "I love Steve so much. I have (a) good grandson."

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